Betrayal of Montenegro, state capitulation to the Serbian Orthodox Church, farce… These are some of the assessments of some political parties in Montenegro for a version of the Basic Agreement, which regulates the state of Montenegro's relations with the Church.

The harshest reaction has been from the parties that participate in the Government of Montenegro or offer it political support in the Assembly: the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS).

Criticism has been met with warnings that the government, elected two months ago, could lose support in the Assembly, which has a majority of just three votes.

What is strongly opposed in the draft text of the Government agreement is the part that recognizes the subjectivity of the Serbian Church in Montenegro six centuries earlier than that of the Church in Serbia.

Known as the Basic Agreement, it is signed with religious communities to regulate mutual property and legal relations.

After almost a decade of unsuccessful negotiations of previous governments, the current Prime Minister of Montenegro, Dritan Abazovi., Has promised a speedy signing of the Basic Agreement with the Serbian Orthodox Church.

SDP threatens to overthrow the Government

Following the publication of the draft text of the Basic Agreement on 28 June, which is said to have been agreed between the Government and the Serbian Orthodox Church, there were furious reactions.

Draginja Vuksanovic, an MP from the SDP, the party that has two ministers in the Abazovic government, said the draft agreement was "a farce, a betrayal and an occupation".

The party unofficially told RFE / RL's Balkan Service that if the government accepts this version of the Basic Agreement with the Church, "the government will inevitably fall and new parliamentary elections will be called."

The DPS said the text had "obviously bad intentions" against Montenegro and added that the government was obliged to protect Montenegrin national interests.

"Otherwise, the consequences are known," said Milos Nikolic, a DPS spokesman.

Even Predrag Boskovic, from this party, said that the "adapted document for the Serbian Orthodox Church" is an attempt "to steal the history and cultural treasure" of Montenegro and added that it will not pass.

"This state and the biggest invaders have endured.

"He will endure these too", he said, writes

europaelire

.

Although the DPS is not in government, the party gives parliamentary support to the Abazovic-led minority government, which was voted on in late April this year.

"Matica crnogorska", a cultural institution in Montenegro, said that by signing such an agreement, the country "would sign the act of capitulation".

How did Abazovic respond?

"Apart from hearing that I am a traitor, I have not yet heard that certain articles of the agreement are wrong," Abazovic said.

He said that the parties who are dissatisfied with the harmonized text of the Basic Agreement with the Serbian Orthodox Church, were aware of its content.

"Representatives of DPS and SDP knew the text and had no objections to the normative part," said Abazovic.

But Defense Minister Rasko Konjevic, from the SDP, published a letter to Abazovic's cabinet, indicating that the party had opposed the draft agreement.

The DPS said that the Prime Minister is deceiving the public and that this party has objections to the agreement.

Abazovic met on June 30th in Belgrade with the patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Porfirije.

The latter said that the adoption of the text of the Basic Agreement could lay a "crown" on the normalization of relations between Montenegro and the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Abazovic said after the meeting that it is necessary to carry out all procedures at the level of working groups and other bodies in the Government of Montenegro and the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Who does not object?

Only the Democratic Front (DF), a pro-Serbian and pro-Russian party, expressed no objections, saying the deal with the Serbian Orthodox Church is acceptable to it if the Church deems it good.

Former Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic, Abazovic's predecessor, said the published version of the Basic Agreement is almost identical to the one his government sent to the Serbian Orthodox Church for approval in July last year.

Krivokapic's government has had close relations with the Serbian Orthodox Church.

What is debatable?

For opponents of the version of the Basic Agreement, it is debatable that the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro has been recognized as a legal entity since 1219, while in Serbia its legal subjectivity has been recognized since 1836.

So, according to the draft agreement, parts of the Serbian Orthodox Church, respectively four dioceses operating in Montenegro, are almost six centuries older than the "mother" church itself - whose headquarters are in Belgrade.

Moreover, the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro would be "older" than the state of Montenegro itself.

Another controversial issue is the extraterritoriality of the Church.

According to the version of the agreement, the Montenegrin state guarantees to the Serbian Orthodox Church that state bodies can not take security measures in its facilities and spaces, without the prior approval of the responsible bodies of the Church, except when it comes to urgent protection of lives and health.

In addition to guaranteeing the inviolability of property over already registered religious sites, the Serbian Orthodox Church has taken over the registration of unregistered immovable property owned by the dioceses of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro.

Pro-Montenegrin parties and institutions see such wording as a "seizure" of Montenegro's cultural and historical treasures.



The term "basic"

Montenegro, so far, has signed a Basic Agreement with the Holy See in the Vatican and by agreement has regulated the mutual relations with the Islamic community and the Jewish one.

Exactly the term "fundamental" is controversial in the agreement with the Serbian Orthodox Church, because it is not subject to international law and does not have the status of a state church in Montenegro.

The Basic Agreement, signed by the Government of Montenegro with the Holy See in June 2011, contains that determinant, because it is an internationally recognized agreement between the state of Montenegro and the Vatican.

When agreements were signed with the Islamic and Jewish community in Montenegro, the term "basic" was dropped.

Some politicians and experts say that the signatories of the agreement with the Church should be the four dioceses of the Serbian Orthodox Church, which are registered in Montenegro, and not their headquarters in Belgrade.

Croatia has had a similar experience.

In December 2001, the then Prime Minister of Croatia, Ivica Racan, signed an agreement with the Serbian Orthodox Church in Croatia.

The Metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana, Jovan, signed on behalf of the Church.

The agreement was not "fundamental", but "an agreement on issues of common interest", and was not signed by the then patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Pavle.

Montenegro's negotiations for a Basic Agreement with the Serbian Orthodox Church began ten years ago, during the rule of the DPS, which fell from power in August 2020. / rel /